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Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 24, 2014 2 comments
It’s the music, stupid. This is what I try to remember whenever I start worrying about audio.
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 21, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep bass from a compact 10-inch box Elegant visual design Flexible, fully implemented two-way crossover
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
A small, or at least smaller, subwoofer that goes truly low, loud, and clean—and looks sharp doing it.

What can you say about a subwoofer? It goes this low, that loud. It has these jacks, knobs, and features and is yea big and costs yon dollars. And really, that’s about it; almost all other discussion is so much verbiage.

Response “flatness” from a speaker covering barely two octaves is of little consideration unless a sub is horribly peaky (a few are), especially since room effects invariably dwarf such variations anyway.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 23, 2014 7 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful yet lightweight
Fast, HD onscreen menus
Built-in Wi-Fi
Minus
Limited audio streaming formats
Unfriendly DLNA streaming navigation
Surround-mode selection a bit clunky

THE VERDICT
A highly competitive audio and video performer in the kilobuck range, H/K’s AVR 3700 should do any home theater justice.

Harman/Kardon is among the quartet of major brands of American audio launched following World War II. (McIntosh, Marantz, and Sherwood are the others.) It’s further distinguished as the only one continuously retained by its owners as a U.S. company—though H/K today is just one brand of the sprawling Harman International empire. (History sidebar: During the Carter presidency, H/K was sold to Beatrice Foods while founder Sidney Harman served as Carter’s Under Secretary of Commerce; Harman then reacquired the company.)

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics from high-resolution digital sources
Substantial amplifier power
Unusual looks; fine finish quality
Minus
No headphone or other additional outputs
Un-ergonomic remote controller

THE VERDICT
Reference-quality sound from hi-rez music files made simple—at a reference-grade price.

What form will the Audiophile System of the Future take? It’s an open question, though it’s a pretty fair bet that the pallet-loads of tube power amps and skyscraper speakers of the high end’s golden age will not return any time soon. One proposed answer, from Wadia Digital, is the Intuition 01 power DAC, a swoopily formed oblong that incorporates very substantial two-channel amplification (190 watts x 2 into 8 ohms, rated), highly sophisticated digital-to-analog conversion facilities, and basic input-selection and volume controls.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 08, 2013 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine performance and sound
Elegant looks
Clear value
Minus
No mute control
Limited detail in volume readout

THE VERDICT
As an integrated amplifier/DAC combo for serious listeners, the D 3020’s audio quality and value are unmistakable.

Audio types old enough to have viewed Chevy Chase’s pratfalls live rather than on demand may remember an unprepossessing integrated amplifier from an unfamiliar brand. The NAD 3020, despite a power rating laughably modest even in 1978 (20 watts per channel) and next to no features, gained notice because, as the lore went, “it sounded great.” And it did—thanks to intelligent amplifier design, a conservative power rating, and the value—widely underappreciated, then and now—of dynamic headroom.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

Once, all you needed to enter the receiver business was audio-engineering chops, competence in packaging efficiency, and a sharp pencil over the bottom line. That was then before the digital audio/video revolution and the birth of the A/V receiver as we know it. Today, you need at least as much smartsin the computer, DSP, and software/firmware fieldsas you do in plain ol’ audio, a fact that has thinned,and continues to thin, the herd of receiver makers noticeably.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 04, 2008 0 comments

Loudspeakers are a necessary evil. The best, most advanced, and costliest examples will produce 100 times the distortion and a dozen times the frequency response error of the lowliest off-brand receiver. Yet it's kind of hard to listen to music without them.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

Like so many British (and, for that matter, American) ür-audio brands, KEF — originally Kent Engineering & Foundry — had its roots in the post- WWII technology boom. In KEF’s case, it grew inside a Quonset hut on the grounds of the aforementioned foundry. A half-century down the road the Kentish maker is still there (in Kent, not in the metal shed!), still focused on its core competency (loudspeakers), and still producing wholly excellent designs.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Sep 02, 2006 0 comments

Note: The two components were tested together, with all measurements taken from the Model 7075 amplifier's speaker outputs.

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